The charge heard most often in 1982 by George Mason's soccer coach, Richard Broad, was that his team played too easy a schedule. If the Patriots' 1983 schedule is any indication, Broad no longer will hear that complaint.
George Mason, which was 12-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament a year ago, will play four tournament teams this season, including 1982 champion Indiana in Fairfax Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We made our schedule harder on purpose," said Broad, whose Patriots will play in the new 5,000-seat West Campus Field. "We wanted to see just how good our players are. We wanted to test their character. I think we have one of the toughest schedules in the country."
Broad, the Mid-Atlantic coach of the year the past two seasons, returns nine starters and will again rely on all-America midfielder Colin Kerr for most of the Patriots' goals. Kerr had 15 goals in 1982, including nine game-winners, and is 14 shy of the school career record after scoring two in George Mason's 7-0 season-opening victory over Pitt yesterday.
Kerr will get offensive support from sophomores Mike Jung (eight goals), Fred Thompson (six) and Mike Reynolds (four), and senior Marc LeMair (three).
Chris Short and Brendan McIntyre are the top returning defenders. Junior goalkeeper Ken Bernstein allowed just nine goals and had 15 shutouts last year.
Virginia: The Cavaliers compiled a 16-2-2 record last year, but lost to George Mason in the NCAA playoffs. Virginia returns 10 starters and will field a lineup that may include seven area players.
Striker Jeff Gaffney (14 goals, five assists) and Brian Vernon (seven, six) form one of the best front lines in the region.
Freshman Todd Hitt will likely be the playmaker for the Cavaliers and Voga Wallace (eight assists) leads a veteran defense. Goalkeeper Steve Baer (0.68 goals-against average, four shutouts) is aggressive.
American: Although the Eagles lost their season opener, 1-0, to Boston College yesterday, all but one player returns to what should be one of the dominant area teams. Finalists in the East Coast Conference tournament last year, the Eagles finished 13-6-1 and narrowly missed an NCAA tournament bid.
The offense is centered around sophomores Scott Snyder (nine goals) and Michael Brady (seven), both of whom competed with the national youth team in the 1983 Youth World Cup.
Junior goalie Steve Giordano (0.95 goals-against average, five shutouts) will get help from fullbacks Paul Tarricone and Greg McConnell and midfielder Vasken Demirjian.
Maryland: The surprise team last year (2-3-1 in the ACC and 10-6-3 overall), the Terrapins return only six players and will start new players at almost every position.
Reza Mohseni (seven goals) is the leading scorer, but he lacks support on the front line. Sophomore midfielder Desmond Armstrong (two goals) can create and score and is perhaps the best all-around player.
Maryland is weak defensively. Patrick Nelson, John Fink and Ken Moore are the only veterans, and Nelson probably will play in the midfield.
Navy: Nine players return, but the Midshipmen may have trouble repeating last year's 8-6-3 record. Goalkeeper Jeff Young finished with a 1.00 goals-against average and will again be the heart of the team's defense. Three starting fullbacks graduated, leaving seniors Mark Barranco and Tab Bruner as the only experienced defenders.
Sophomore Mike Donigan (five goals) and Bruner (five) will be counted upon to score, but they need help from Iric Bressler (two), Rich Carlson and several recruits.
Howard: The Bison played wide-open, exciting soccer in 1982, and return 14 players from a team that finished 9-3-3.
Sophomore forwards Phillip Gyau (seven goals) and Peter Prom (two) are two of the best in the region, and midfielder Juan Estrada showed signs last year of developing into a top playmaker. Oscar Iko (three goals) and Christopher Hunt will figure heavily in the offense.
George Washington: Coach Tony Vecchione signed 11 recruits, including four from Canada, and has restructured the team along more disciplined lines in an effort to improve last year's 3-10-3 record.
Senior forward Yared Aklilu (four goals) is one of the area's most creative players and will get help up front from his brother Ameha (two).
Catholic: The Cardinals were 5-11-4 last year, but could finish above .500 if the team gets some offense. Goalkeeper Joe Cerullo (1.51 goals-against average and a school-record 155 saves) and backup Bill Feehan are dependable, and defenders Mike Murray, Tom Paully and John Miller form a solid back line.
Georgetown: The team showed signs last year of adapting to Coach Mike Dillon's defense-oriented system, and finished at 4-9-4. Goalkeepers Don Wall (1.50 goals-against average, 104 saves) and Al Rabassa (0.90) are solid, but the Hoyas need to improve offensively.
District of Columbia: The Firebirds qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs last year with a team that emphasized speed and quickness, and almost the entire offense returns.
Forwards Paul Emordi (19 goals) and Gordon Ashford (eight) are clever, and sophomore midfielder Nick Vega (three goals, 10 assists) passes well.